The Chick Who Smiles

June 9, 2008

Well, the deed is done.  World Championships are over for this year and I am officially wearing a smile of accomplishment.  Certainly this race was a test of flexibility (the mental kind) and I think I passed that one.  With the swim being shortened I knew I would probably lose a bit of my edge but I thought I might gain that loss back by the fact that I was feeling okay about whatever course changes were made.  I love to race.  It makes me tingly and happy and full and alive.  There is simply no substitute for me than standing on the start line knowing I have done so much work for that moment.  Short swim?  Cold, rough water?  Windy day?  Bring it.  I will take it all for a chance to cross the line after a couple of hours of hard racing.

I will say that this particular swim was definitely the coldest and also the most physical I have ever been in.  My face is bruised and sore today from the hits I took in the eye and nose.  I am used to being out front away from the pack in the swim.  I am not used to swimming with some of the world’s best who are ALL strong swimmers and ALL grappling for a place at the front.  Lately in my pool swimming I have experienced the odd phenomenon of choking while swimming all out.  It seems to be happening lately when I go flat out because maybe my stroke is less smooth and I seem to take on water.  Well, pretty early into yesterday’s swim I laughed to myself about that being PERFECT training for this race.  I choked countless times during the swim and even vomited up something I was sure I hadn’t eaten which was a little disturbing.  My goal was to be in the top 10 out of the water and there were moments where I had that nailed, but alas, I stumbled out of those frigid waters in 15th place.  Not too shabby though, and I was pleased.

T1 was a comedy of frozen errors as I tried to grasp my wetsuit leash.  I thankfully had borrowed gloves from my hosts which was very grateful to have on the bike.  My bike split was decent and I was happy with the way I rode, although I lost quite a few places on the ride.  It was, however, possibly the most fun and spectacular bike route I’ve ever raced.

T2 was equally hilarious trying to get my frozen solid feet into my shoes.  Knowing that the run would likely be hard on my knee, I had left nothing in my legs from the bike, so I was surprised I could even stand coming off the bike.

I was thrilled at how strong I felt on the run and immediately started grinning as I ran out of T2.  People were going nuts because I was smiling (I guess not many people out there looked very happy) so I was getting tons of enthusiastic cheers which really bolstered me along.  It was actually pretty hilarious because my legs were numb from the cold, so my knee was a complete non-issue until about 6km in when the feeling came back into my legs.  And boy did it come back.  That knee was NOT happy and I had to several times tell it to shut up and calm down.  There were no mile markers out there so I really didn’t know what my splits were like, but I felt strong and just kept on trucking to the sound of people cheering.  Once I got close to the finish line I pretty much hauled ass as I ran past my friends who flew all the way out from Massachusetts to watch me!!  GB and family were watching the internet coverage and they said the camera was on me for ages down the finish chute, so they were all excited to be seeing me finish all the way from Maine.

Although I did not finish anywhere near to where I was hoping, I am happy with my times and feel like that was a solid start to the season.  I thought about lots of you bloggers when I was out there and about all the encouragement you have offered me leading up to this race.  Also, on behalf of all the bloggers I screamed for Jen we passed each other on the out and back.  Unlike me, she had her game face on and was completely oblivious, but I told her about it later.  People commented a lot about my smiling and how wearing a big grin while running suggests that I was not trying my hardest.  I used to have a coach who would scream at me: “STOP SMILING!!! IF YOU’RE SMILING YOU’RE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH!”.  I have thought a lot about this and I don’t know if it’s true or not.  I just friggin’ love racing.  I physically cannot help smiling when all those feelings are moving through my system.  Maybe I need to try harder.  Or maybe I’ll just one day be the pro who smiles.

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Oh, Canada

June 6, 2008

It has been a busy few days and I made it here safely and uneventfully in spite of the teeny tiny plane I flew on.  I do not remember reading anything in the fine print about riding in a plane that small.  I have ridden in vans with more passenger seating that the plane had!

Vancouver is every bit as great as I thought it would be and every bit as rainy.  It’s so good to be back in the company of Canadians, eh.  They are so ridiculously friendly and so completely oblivious to their own friendliness.  It’s as if everyone on the street is just waiting for me to need help or directions or a new kidney.  They just want to help out.  It’s very refreshing.  I love them.

As you can read over on Jen H’s blog, I spent the day yesterday with her and the infamous Sally.  They are both pretty much exactly what I thought they would be.  Jen is every bit as bubbly and energetic as I anticipated and Sally is really sweet and sort of “fresh”.  Not fresh like rude, but fresh like a daisy.  Really open and alive and just oddly passionate about construction equipment.  It was definitely the first time I had heard the phrase “Oh that is my favorite piece of construction equipment.  It turns around 360 degrees and is just so neat” from anyone over the age of seven. 

Sally and Jen were awesome and drove me to the bike store to pick up my rental for the race.  We had a fun day and certainly accomplished a lot.  I am, however, a little sore in the legs from walking around the city all day.  I have big plans to rest today and to make a day out of shaving my legs and drinking coffee.

Whatever tomorrow holds, I’m excited to go out there an do the thing I love to do most.

C, eh. N, eh. D, eh.

June 4, 2008

Off to Canada today.  To parts of it I have never seen  before.  I have surprisingly little luggage (although thanks, Marit –  I did remember my pedals) and GB was expressing concern last night that I might have forgotten some things.  I did a quick brick last night which went pretty well although I am looking forward to the rest of the taper fatigue working its way out of my legs.  Other than that there is not much to report.  I guess my next post will be from Vancouver!

Goodbye, Old Red

June 3, 2008

When I got home yesterday I had not one, but TWO packages awaiting me in the mail.  One was a tell-tale BlueSeventy box containing my brand new wetsuit, but the other was pretty mysterious looking.  It turns out that Marit sent me the cutest ever pre-race care package!  It was so thoughtful and sweet that I nearly cried.  It was full of words for which I am so grateful and that will inevitably buoy me through my race on Saturday.

After I got over myself and read everything that Marit had written and drooled over the post-race chocolate bar she sent, I went about opening my wetsuit.  Oh boy.  That thing looks fast and feels fast.  The bugs were terrible at our place last night so I put on my wetsuit and went outside with GB saying “try biting me now, bugs!”.  My feet, however, did still get bitten.  I then modelled the neoprene cap which I call my ‘booty cap’.  Even GB admits that I do NOT look good in this particular piece of attire, but I want to be ready for that Canadian ocean water.  And so the day has come.  It’s time to say goodbye to Old Red the wetsuit.  When I’m not busy getting ready packing, perhaps I’ll post a picture of the two together: the old and the new.

In other news, I am renting a bike in Vancouver, so I will not be taking my bike.  My coach (understandably) got her undies in a little bit of a bunch over this one yesterday but I have assured her that I will get properly fitted on the rental.  With all the confusion about whether I can or cannot take my bike on the plane, I decided it was best to proceed with an alternative plan.  I will be so frustrated if I show up at the airport with my bike and have to leave it there in the care of someone I don’t know while I fly to Vancouver without it.  Besides, the bike I am renting is nicer than my bike, so that should count for something.  I’m pretty sure that’s breaking a cardinal rule of triathlon: don’t use new gear on race day, but you know what?  I’m fine with it.  My legs are ready, my mind is ready.  I just need some wheels underneath me to make it all happen.

The best part of all that, of course, is that it looks like I’m going to be able to fly with only a carry-on bag and no checked luggage.  I’m very excited about that possibility although I know it’s likely to fall apart as I walk out the door on Wednesday morning and suddenly remember the million extra things I should take with me ‘just in case’.

Yesterday was a fairly unpleasant body day.  I was feeling gross and had the ‘taper bug’ as my darling coach calls it.  Grumpy and VERY hungry with lots of little niggling aches and pains.  And not so speedy in the water.  Today I’m feeling much more fresh and I have that high-energy calm inside.  You know?  When everything is a sort of calm buzz inside and you know you’re ready.  The training hours are in the bank.  Now it’s just rest, prepare, stay focused, and get the job done.  Time to handle whatever the day throws your way.  The racing has always been my favorite part and while I have enjoyed training this year more than ever, I’m pretty sure I have not lost the euphoric racing bug.

Bring it.